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Matthew Arnold: Tolstoy’s commandments of peace

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Leo Tolstoy: Selections on war

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Matthew Arnold
From Count Leo Tolstoi

He extracts this central doctrine, or rule of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount, and presents it in a body of commandments – Christ’s commandments; the pith, he says, of the New Testament as the Decalogue is the pith of the Old. These all-important commandments of Christ are ‘commandments of peace,’ and five in number. The first commandment is: ‘Live in peace with all men…’

If these five commandments were generally observed, says Count Tolstoi, all men would become brothers. Certainly the actual society in which we live would be changed and dissolved. Armies and wars would be renounced.

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